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Finding the work/life balance in your life

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in Your Office Coach

Question:  “I can’t seem to find the happy medium between too much work and not enough.  Although I’ve been doing training for 20 years, I still spend a million hours on my lesson plans and class materials. My experience should enable me to work much more quickly, but if I don’t spend all my spare time prepping for class, I feel like a slacker. I’d like to nurture my creative side by trying out some new hobbies and activities. How can I stop devoting so much time to my work?” — Too Dedicated

Marie’s Answer:  You’re being held hostage by your own conscientiousness. Over the years, extreme attention to detail has paid off for you, so now it feels scary to let anything go. Here are a few points to consider:

•    In reality, all this extra "polishing" may no longer add much value. Ask yourself whether the additional hour of tinkering with an established lesson plan really makes it that much better.  

•    Your overpreparation may actually have an anxiety-reducing function. Constantly revising and reviewing and rehearsing may help you feel more prepared for the unexpected. But after 20 years, how many surprises can there be?   

•    Breaking this habit will require a strong commitment to self-management. When that nagging inner voice tells you to redo another handout, give yourself permission to say no. Then turn your attention to something else.  

•    To explore your artsy inclinations, schedule specific times for creative activities. Put them on your calendar, view them as a serious obligation, and do not blow them off at the last minute.  Otherwise, you will just keep revising class materials until the day you retire.

For a five-step self-improvement process, see How to Change Your Behavior.

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